Over the past month, I’ve been doing a little consulting work for/with my brother. He just launched his first website, and I am so excited for him. The site is Thotfully.com, and it is a terrific service to help users keep track of and celebrate special days with the following features: calendar display, text reminders, gift notes, and even gift ordering directly through the site.
Personally, I am really drawn to a web application that puts technology to work to make people a bit more thoughtful. There are plenty of programs and sites that boost productivity, and plenty that inspire creativity, but here’s one that can brighten days and strengthen bonds between people. That’s good. Plus, when we put important, special moments and events that we want to remember in our Google calendars alongside our meetings and deadlines, I think the proximity can be troubling. Even with color-coding, all events in a Google calendar seem to get flattened into calendar items, dates or meetings or submissions we need to attend to and then cross-off. But by archiving birthdays and planning ahead for festivities on Thotfully.com, we can be reminded that these dates and moments are different. They are thots – a term I like because it seems to capture the essence of automated thoughtfulness well, to remind users that the site supports cyborg thougthfulness, computer and human user working together towards a kinder, better tomorrow.
So what did I actually do as a consultant? A couple of little projects that we orchestrated with the help of Trello:
1. Draft and refine the site’s copy. There’s not a lot, but I worked on the text that displays on the home, about, and FAQ pages.
Here’s my favorite:
2. Expand gift options. Brendan had a few staples, and I worked to find a few more featured gifts, like Happy Socks.
3. Provide feedback on site layout, design, and functionality. Basically, this amounted to a bunch of conversations with Brendan and a few emailed list of questions, concerns, and ideas I had. From these discussions and suggestions, Brendan implemented the calendar, revised the gift notes’ field, added gifts, etc. It was fun to see him take a suggestion and run with it. He is very talented.
Brendan just blogged about this adventure here, and I agree that I learned a lot in this process, too. I really appreciated getting to think about words and how they are used on the web. That is, how can we capture the essence and ethos of a site in as few words as possible? How can we explain site features in a way that makes sense and isn’t too terribly dry? What needs to get said and what can just be expressed as an icon?
But the most important lesson: I hope I get the chance to work with Brendan again.